After an embarrassing loss to Bowling Green in its FBS opener, Maryland returns to play another non-power opponent in College Park Saturday. The Terps will take on South Florida at noon ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
The Bulls are 1-1 this season, and like the Terps are 0-1 against FBS competition. South Florida dominated FCS Florida A&M in its opener and hung with Florida State for a half before falling 34-14 on the road to the Seminoles.
South Florida has struggled under third-year head coach Willie Taggart, a former star quarterback and assistant at Western Kentucky who spent time as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh before a successful stint as the Hilltoppers' head coach. Since he's taken over the Bulls program, USF has recruited very well but has not been able to translate that into a consistent on-field product.
South Florida Bulls (1-1)
2014 record: 4-8 (3-5 AAC)
Head coach: Willie Taggart (23-39, 7-19 at USF)
All-time record vs. Maryland: 0-1
Returning starters: 12 (5 offense, 7 defense)
F/+ ranking: 107 (Maryland is 78)
5-year recruiting ranking: 52
Players to know
Marlon Mack, RB, sophomore, 6'0/205, No. 5. Marlon Mack will be playing running back on Sundays very shortly. Maryland absolutely needs to contain him to win, but that's harder than it sounds. He's averaging 5.2 yards per carry on 41 rushes this year ... the same rate he had last season as a true freshman with 202 carries.
Quinton Flowers, QB, sophomore, 6'0/210, No. 9. South Florida has a quarterback with a decent arm but no touch who needs to move out of the pocket to be effective. Sound familiar? We'll talk more about the Bulls' passing struggles later, but USF's passing game mostly relies on having Flowers throw behind the line of scrimmage.
Bruce Hector, DT, sophomore, 6'2/270, No. 60. After losing former 4-star recruit Derrick Calloway before the year, the relatively unheralded Hector has been a presence for the Bulls through two games, leading the team in tackles for a loss (four) and tied for the lead in sacks (two).
Nigel Harris, LB, junior, 6'0/231, No. 57. The best linebacker on the team last season, Harris is returning from a two-game suspension to face Maryland in his debut this year. He forced two fumbles against the Terps last season and actually led the entire NCAA in the category last year, and is a dangerous playmaker in the front seven.
Front-seven. South Florida has a lot of talent up front (multiple players received Florida State offers) and the team's top two linebackers both return from suspension for this game. The Bulls did allow 278 yards on 46 carries to Florida State (led by Heisman candidate Dalvin Cook), but held Florida A&M to 0.4 yards per carry. Maryland's rushing offense is somewhere between those two.
Rushing offense. Mack is one of the best running backs in the nation, and he's not the only one carrying the ball for South Florida. Darius Tice is averaging 10.1 yards per carry, while Flowers has run for 101 yards and a touchdown already this year. Maryland can not let Flowers scramble.
Passing beyond the line of scrimmage. Against Florida State, South Florida completed ONE pass to a wide receiver.
The Bulls did not complete a pass to a receiver beyond the line of scrimmage until the third quarter.
Frankly, if Maryland's defensive backs don't play closer to the line than they did against Bowling Green, the defensive coaching staff will have just as much to answer for as Maryland's offensive staff. The Falcons found tremendous success on screen passes against Maryland's deeper sets. If the Terps allow South Florida to do the same, that's just bad gameplanning (again).
Winning games. This is a really bad team, Maryland. Please win?
F/+ prediction: Maryland 34.0, USF 21.7. Maryland given a 76.1% chance of winning.
Our prediction: Maryland 20, USF 17.
12:00pm South Florida @ Maryland